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Wednesday, 26 April 2017


This is a much debated subject, but it is looking like more and more experts are starting to agree – pets can suffer from depression.

The fact that not many people are aware of this leads to the condition seldom getting treatment and as with humans, this can have dire consequences.

Let me tell you two stories from personal experience and you can make up your own mind.

The first is about a parrot owned by a good friend. The parrot grew up with my friend, but after some years, my friend had to move away for work reasons and the parrot was left with his parents. The parrot bonded with my friend’s father. After about four years, my friend settled down in a place where he could again keep his beloved parrot and they were reunited.

Everything went well until the parrot started plucking out his tail feathers and eventually plucked more and more of his feathers. Diet supplements and numerous vet trips did not help. Eventually one forward thinking vet put the parrot on anti-depressants. Almost immediately the plucking stopped and started looking like a healthy parrot again.

Then my friend went on holiday and the parrot had to stay with his parents for two weeks. They were scarcely back home when the plucking started again. Out of desperation and for the parrot’s well being, he was returned to my friend’s parents and now, some years later, has not plucked a feather and is thriving.

Did he miss the father, or is this pure coincidence?

The second story is much closer to home and still somewhat raw.

We had an armed robbery in our house where my wife and I were split up, three of our dogs sat by her through the whole ordeal while the fourth dog, Tissi, sat outside the window of the room where I was trapped, shouting for help, but unable to do anything.

Tissi was never the same afterwards, it was as if she had lost some of her spirit and sadly passed away seven months later at the fairly young age of eleven.

We were so tied up in our own struggle to get past the harrowing experience that we did not recognise her symptoms then and will always wonder if we could have done anything to help her.

Over the years working with rescued animals we also often saw the typical symptoms of depression: Kennel stress, listlessness and constant licking, amongst others.

Yes, I do believe our animals can suffer from depression and, like with our human friends, we must be on the lookout for it and get them help as soon as possible.

Below is some further reading:

National Geographic



Huffington Post



Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Everybody always wants to adopt a puppy or a kitten, yes they are very cute, but you have no idea how it is going to turn out.
Your extremely cute puppy may be a chewer with no shoe safe, that fluffy kitten could decide that it is wonderful to explore at night and visit all the neighbours.
This is where adopting a more senior animal with a known history is a major advantage – you already know all their bad habits (if any) and you can decide whether you can live with them.
Senior animals don’t always end up in rescue centres because of bad behaviour, very often it is because the owners have to move or just cannot afford to take care of it any more.
We have adopted a number of senior dogs and cats over the years and without exception, they have been an absolute joy. Each and every one of them was grateful for the second chance we gave them.
Take Rascal (featured in the picture) as an example. He was a Collie/German Shepherd cross and around nine or ten years old when we adopted him. Our intention was give him a comfortable and loving environment in which to see out his remaining few years. The average life span for dogs of his size is about 12 years. Rascal, even at his age, was incredible with a tennis ball – his catching skills would have made Jonty Rhodes jealous!
Rascal was seventeen when we had to let him go peacefully. Seven years of pure joy and bliss for us.
There is also this misconception that senior cats will try and return to their original homes. That may happen now and then, not one of the senior cats we adopted ever even attempted that. They settled into our household like long time residents and where among the most loving cats we’ve ever had.
Please, do yourself and a senior animal a huge favour, really consider adopting one of them instead of a puppy or kitten – you will be rewarded with love and loyalty!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017


I almost did not do a blog this week as I felt that with the current turmoil in our country, it would not be apt to do something just on animals.

Then I remembered this quote from the late Mahatma Ghandi:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

I am really worried about the moral progress of our nation, as we all know, the moment money becomes tight, the first place they cut is support for animals. As it is, government support for animal organisations is virtually non-existent.

The privately run animal rescue centres are funded entirely by money collected from individuals, with here and there business support – no government money.

Even the possibility of support from the LOTTO has now disappeared as is clear from this quote from the NSPCA Web site (

“Certain programmes that reside in the Charities Sector, including Animal Welfare Organisations, have been excluded from the current Open Call for Applications.”
This was the message received by the National Council of SPCAs in a communication from Ms Chickey Mofet-Mubu , Senior Manager, Grants Operation Support of the National Lotteries Commission, dated 07 March 2017.
Addressed to Marcelle Meredith, the NSPCA’s Executive Director, the letter stated that “The 2016 Charities Open Call for Applications will focus on strategic focus areas that are aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP) as well as government priorities.”
“The exclusion of animal welfare organisations is short-sighted and inexcusable,” explained Marcelle Meredith. “The manner of communicating this was blunt and unforeseen. Organisations, including ourselves, spent a great deal of time and effort in submitting detailed applications for essential projects with budgets, business plans and worthy goals that would benefit communities.”

If you think that the country’s financial junk status is not going to affect you much, think again.

Just take the government sponsored Rabies programme – very soon you are going to either fork out a lot to keep your pets safe, or we are going to have a rabies epidemic.

As a nation we should stand together for the sake of our animals!  Do not let our moral progress receive junk status too!


Monday, 3 April 2017


Naming people has always been an occasion, it is seen as giving them an unique identity and in some cultures it is considered giving them a direction for life.

Naming pets is a somewhat more haphazard affair, especially when left to children. You find animals named after favourite toys, movie characters or mis-heard phrases. One such example is a miniature Doberman-Pincher named Wolverine.

It was quite funny when I was introduced to this tiny little dog with the really big name. Oddly enough it grew up to have a huge personality and dominated its household, including the massive Rottweiler. Coincidence? Maybe not, maybe its name formed its character.

Just possibly we should pay more attention when naming our animals, give it some thought and give it a chance to grow into its name.

The photo accompanying this blog is of my Rough Collie, Steffi, or to give her, her full name, Stephani Sanderberg Snow At Night.

I had a Rough Collie called Tissi a couple of years ago and a friend kept saying Tissi reminded her of Princess Grace of Monaco as she was very regal and very graceful. When we got Steffi, we wanted to pay homage to the departed Tissi and hence the name, Stephani. She has certainly lived up to her royal lineage and is as graceful as Tissi was.
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